Try this Beef Empanada recipe! With a delicious savory filling encased in a buttery, flaky crust, these meat hand pies make a great snack, game day food or a light meal and are sure to be a family favorite.
Although I claim to be a reasonably good cook, I am first to admit that I am not much of a baker. I’ve made in my life far too many muffins so hard they could put down Goliath to sleep and baked enough number of bread that failed to rise to the occasion.
But, boy, oh, boy, do I make a mean pie crust! After years of working with mini egg pies as a business, I think I finally have the mechanics of buttery, flaky crusts down pat. I’ve been using the same pie crust recipe for years, and it has never failed me.
For this beef empanada recipe, however, I increased the amount of flour to 2 1/2 cups to give the dough a little bit more structure and make it more sturdy. For the filling, I use a giniling-style beef mixture which makes for a great combination of flavor and texture. With sweet and savory meat encased in a buttery, flaky crust, these hand pies are sure to be a crowd pleaser!
Where do Empanadas Originate from?
Empanadas are a type of fried or baked pasty which originated from the Galicia region of Spain and are popular in various forms in Latin American cuisine as well as the Philippines.
As its name which comes from the Spanish word empanar or to wrap or in bread implies, these hand pies are made by folding dough over a stuffing such as beef, chicken, cheese, boiled egg, fish or fruit.
Tips on How to Make Filipino-style Beef Empanada
- For a buttery, flaky crust, use VERY cold ingredients. I recommend freezing the butter cubes and chilling the flour for a few minutes to help maintain cool temperatures.
- For a tender crust, add ice-cold water sparingly and use just enough amount for the dough to hold together. The dough should not be sticky but shaggy and feel almost dry to the touch.
- Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator before rolling out, especially during hot weather. Work quickly so the dough doesn’t heat up. If it begins to soften, tear apart or stick on the work surface, return to refrigerator to chill for about 5 minutes.
- To prevent gluten formation and toughening the crust, handle the dough gently and do not over manipulate.
- Drain the meat filling well and allow to cool completely as the excess moisture and steam might tear the dough.
- Do not overstuff the dough lest the pies will break apart.
- Braiding the edges together is the traditional way of sealing empanada but make it easier pressing together with the tines of a fork instead.
- These hand pies can be baked or deep-fried. Skip the egg wash and make sure the oil temperature is at an optimal 350 F to 375 F. Too hot and the crust will brown before sufficiently cooked through; too low and the empanada will absorb a lot more grease.
Can Empanada be made ahead of time?
Yes, you can prep them ahead of time and store for future use. The empanadas do require multiple steps and you can break down the process to make it easier, especially when making for a large crowd.
The beef filling can be cooked in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also make the dough, wrap it tightly in plastic film, and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days or place in a resealable bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
To store unbaked meat pies, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet, freeze until solid and then transfer in airtight containers. This way, they won’t stick together. Frozen empanadas will keep well for up to 3 months and can be baked straight from the freezer by adding extra minutes of bake time.
How Do You Store Leftover Empanadas?
As fully baked pies tend to lose their flaky texture over time, it’s best to store them unbaked.
If you end up with already baked extras, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until firm first before transferring to airtight containers or resealable bags to keep from sticking together. When ready to serve, warm them up in the oven on low setting or reheat in the microwave for a few minutes.
For the Crust
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup ice water
For the Meat Filling
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/2 small onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 small potato, peeled and diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- salt and pepper to taste
For the Egg Wash
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Cut butter into cubes and freeze for about 1 hour. In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- Add butter to flour mixture. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender or by pinching the fat into the flour mixture with hands. Work them together until resembling coarse cornmeal with pea-like, butter-speckled pieces.
- Slowly drizzle water to flour-butter mixture and with hands, mix until just combined. If the dough is too crumbly and does not hold together, add more water a tablespoon at a time. DO NOT ADD TOO MUCH LIQUID and DO NOT OVERWORK DOUGH.
- Gently gather dough into a ball. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, in a wide pan over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions and garlic and cook until softened.
- Add ground beef and cook, breaking into pieces with the back of the spoon, for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until no longer pink.
- Add tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer until meat is cooked.
- Add potatoes and carrots and cook until tender.
- Add green peas and raisins. Continue to cook until vegetables are heated through and liquid is reduced. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a colander, drain meat filling and allow to cool completely.
- Divide pie crust into 12 balls. Place each ball between two sheets of parchment paper and with a rolling pin, gently flatten each ball into 5-inch diameter and 1/4-inch thickness.
- Using a round biscuit cutter or an inverted bowl, cut into the dough by gently twisting to form circles with smooth edges. Trim any excess dough.
- On a flat work surface, lay dough circle and spoon about a heaping tablespoon of filling in the middle. Fold the bottom of the dough over filling and with fingers, press edges firmly. Using tines of a fork, press on sides of dough to firmly seal. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
- In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and salt.
- On a lightly greased baking sheet, arrange prepared empanadas in a single layer and brush top with egg wash. Bake in a 375 F oven for about 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Remove from oven and allow to slightly cool for about 1 to 2 minutes before removing from the baking sheet.